Shop Made JIGS #8: Slot Mortiser with Toggle Clamp Blocks Completed

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Blog entry by HappyHowie posted 05-14-2016 04:34 PM 2233 reads 0 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 7: Router Mortising JIGs Competed; Sort of Part 8 of Shop Made JIGS series no next part

My new shop-made slot mortiser is ready for a test cut.

Yesterday, Friday the 13th, the carrier delivered my two new toggle clamps. I drilled the holes for them in the clamping block and installed them. For now I will leave both assemblies on the one large plywood base. I am considering separating or cutting the base so each assembly can be separately clamped to a table when in use. Having the bases separated will make it easier for me to store this large and heavy JIG. I may build a moveable table stand for it. If I make a stand for it, I will make it large enough to be my mortising station. I will store it all of mortising machines and JIGS. They are my Powermatic benchtop mortiser plus my three new router mortising JIGs: Jeff Miller’s router mortising block (great for table legs), a mortising JIG base on a Woodsmith or Shop Notes plan (the only thing I changed was adding a moveable toggle clamp block instead of mounting three permanent toggle clamps), and lastly this slot mortise station (based on Paolini’s and Henn’s designs). I probably have the square footage in my shop for one more table stand. A note or reminder to myself: include a sizeable storage shelf and sturdy full extension drawers in any table stand I add to my shop…

In review, the MDF assembly I designed was based on Gregory Paolini’s slot mortiser. I saw pictures of his vertical router lift but decided to make my lift after Guido Henn’s design published in the German magazine Holzwerken. I bought two month publications of Holzwerken Magazine where Mr Henn presented his material lists and dimensions for this lift plus his rather large table. His design had the table remain stationary. His router lift moved was made to move in all three axis: x, y and z. The user sets the height of the router bit then the user moves that lift system by plunging into the lumber and moving the lift system left and right, in and out. Stop blocks contain the left and right and in and out distance the bit travels.

Holzwerken Magazine Articles by Guido Henn

a) Router Lift System, April 2014

b) Table and Previous Router Lift, February 2014

Gregory Paolini’s Slot Mortiser: His website contains an updated lift design. Versus the Fine Woodworking Magazine article.

I fought through the issue of translating German to English by use of Google’s online translator. It was not perfect but it got me through the language barrier. Still some parts of the translation left me on my own. I tried to push through those design issues. I went looking for other lift designs using a threaded rod to help me in my design. Later I discovered that some woodworking sites and catalogs offer a similar lift and table very close to Guido Henn’s system. They sell their advanced models for around $210-$260. It is difficult for me to calculate the cost of my JIG since I have left over Baltic Birch plywood, knobs and 1/4” – 20 tpi Hex bolts of different lengths, etc that I can use on other projects. The costs are probably similar to purchasing an already made system, but I have gained valuable experience in making the JIG. Real experiences always help a woodworker, don’t they? Hope so…

What is one thing that I learned? Well, if you are cutting grooves either on the table saw or with a router, cut the grooves while the lumber is still one piece. Then cross-cut the lumber to the lengths needed so that the grooves will line-up precisely when needing to join or align the two parts that will be working together in your JIG or system. Like in my case I precisely set my router table’s fence and I thought each MDF block was cut to the very same width, but after all said and done something wasn’t exact. If I had cut the grooves from the same MDF block, my grooves would have lined up precisely. My issue was not a big deal. I just had to trim a fraction more to widen one of my MDF block grooves.

I will try making my own loose tenon materials. However, I have watched Anthony Zeh demonstrate his design based on the Paolini slot mortiser. He bought metric sized router bits so he could purchase and use Festools’ already made domino pieces: 5 mm, 6 mm, and 8 mm dominos. I am glad he left a link to where he purchased those router bits. My own online search for metric router bits leaving me confused and frustrated. For instance, in Europe do woodworkers use collets every time a different router bit is used? For instance: is a 5 mm upcut router bit come only with a 5 mm shank? Then when say an 8 mm upcut bit is used, does the operator have to change his router’s collet to house an 8 mm shank? My search was leaving me with more questions than answers…

During a visit to my local Woodcraft store I checked the packages and prices for these ready made loose tenons. They are branded with such a nice design that it is almost a shame to hide them in mortises. And, so it goes…

-- --- Happy Howie

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